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There may be a space in your home or business that may be a little small and you want to appear larger. Just because it is small, doesn’t mean the room should be without style and functionality.

The first rule of making a small space look bigger is to de-clutter. A space with too many objects, or furniture closes it in. Well-decorated spaces have a sense of order, balance, calm, flow and movement. Too much clutter means distraction and instead of order and balance, you have disharmony.

It is not as hard to de-clutter as you may think. It may be as simple as removing only a few items. When deciding what to keep and what to remove, think about it in terms of what matters, what is important, and what you can do without. Remove the latter.

After you have decided what to combine or store, be creative with storage. Look for storage solutions that hide your clutter — floor-to-ceiling bookcases, tables with underneath storage. Think vertically. Anything you can hang on the wall uses vertical space and de-clutters at the same time. For example, sconces can replace table lamps. Likewise, in your home office, eliminate files on horizontal surfaces and use a wall file system — you can still see them, but they are living vertically.

If you haven’t already done so, install a wall mounted flat-screen TV and in one fell swoop, you have eliminated a TV stand, credenza and the like and give yourself more space.

Occasionally, the dining space is small. Even if we would like to put in a nice long farmers table, a round table might fit better and provide the same amount of seating. Make use of every nook and corner. Installing a banquette against the wall provides extra seating and allows you to put a small table and chairs to create a cozy seating area.

Sliding doors give you more space over swinging doors.

If you have a small bathroom, in addition to de-cluttering by hanging shelves with decorative storage boxes above the toilet, change a frosted glass shower door for a clear one or a shower curtain that can be pulled aside when not in use.

How a room or area is furnished in a small space makes a big difference. It seems obvious, but don’t overfurnish your room. Overly furnished rooms not only make your room seem smaller than it is, but also make it hard to maneuver around. Look for furnishings that are multifunctional, like a coffee table with ottomans that fit underneath. For that matter, use furniture that has an airy feel, like a couch with legs, rather than a skirt, to give the illusion of space flowing all around. Glass gives an airy feel. Chairs without arms (e.g. Parsons chairs) are another space-saving idea.

And always keep the main furnishings in the same scale and proportion. Furniture that is too small will make your room seem unbalanced and awkward, and might even make it seem more like a dollhouse – this is certainly not a look we’re after! Conversely, a room whose furniture is too large will also feel unbalanced and cramped.

Sometimes, it’s not a matter of too much furniture, but the placement of the furniture itself. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. Pushing the furniture together or creating a grouping can often create an intimate setting and allow people to move in between and around the furniture.

Another aspect to think about in making small spaces look bigger is color. Using a monochromatic color scheme gives the appearance of a unified flow and a cohesiveness that can “stretch” a room. Bold patterns should be avoided as they can “eat up” the room.

If you do not have enough rooms to accommodate all the activities that take place in your home or office, make the room multi-functional. A daybed can double as a sofa that can be used to watch TV or serve as an overnight guest room.

Lighting is key. It is one of the most important elements of design. Your space should have as much natural lighting as possible. Do not block natural light sources with poorly placed curtains and accessories. Enhance natural light with the placement of mirrors directly across your source to allow the light to bounce around the room. Mirrors can really open up a room. A mirrored wall creates the illusion that you have double the space.

Hanging curtain rods too low is a common mistake. Curtain rods should be hung as close to the ceiling as possible to create a sense of height. Rods that are hung too low make a ceiling feel lower, and can make a room feel a lot smaller than it is.

It’s not as hard as you think to make small spaces appear larger. Try these tips in your small space.

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Deborah Macdonald provides decorating services and high-end sophisticated fabrics and solutions through Napa At Home. Her website is www.napaathome.com. Contact her at Deborah@napaathome.com or 707-255-0246.

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